NLD Pennant League
Ripley Rhinos 2nd XV 14pts
Nottinghamians 2nds 38pts
RIPLEY Rhinos seconds got a team out, finding 15 players after a lot of effort, only to find visitors Nottinghamians 2nds could muster only five players.
Thankfully they travelled across to ensure the game went ahead and alas for Ripley, those five were possibly the best players out on a very sunny and hot Mill Hill pitch.
Stand-in skipper Zeique Robinson, returning from his broken leg, lent the visitors the likes of Ben Heanue, Russell Dixon, Adam Chawner and Steve Cope but even so the reduced numbers saw only three man uncontested scrums which negated an area of strength for the Rhinos and left usual second rows Justin Neville and Mike Symons floating around the backline in unfamiliar positions.
Nottinghamians set out an early stall with two quick tries as they broke the sky blue backline.
Rhinos created plenty of chances as they attacked up the hill in the first half but a series of poor decisions as they neared the line saw them kept scoreless.
Hamians added two more tries to go into half-time 28-0 ahead.
Ripley regrouped at half time and focussed on keeping the ball for periods and then opening out the game and this paid immediate dividends as good work from scrum half Roger Morgan and fly half Liam Porter put winger Matt Whysall into space and he sprinted away to score his first try for the club under the posts. Porter converted to further reduce the deficit.
The visitors’ five gelled well with their borrowed team mates and still had the upper hand and two more tries followed to extend the lead to 38-7.
The heat was really the key factor in the second half as small numbers playing on a full sized pitch took its toll but Rhinos finished off the game in style as replacement Matt Button timed it perfectly to intercept a Hamians pass and sprint away to score.
Porter’s conversion took the final score to 38-14 in a game well refereed by the understanding society-supplied Hugh Button.
It’s a cliché but rugby was the winner in this game - Ripley’s older team didn’t have the type of game they could have made a mark in but they battled throughout and made a good match of it.
Speedy winger Matt Whysall showed his potential with his running and defence and made a welcome winner of the BAB Plumbing and Heating Man of the Match award from his team mates.